In The News

Unmanned SailBuoy vessel shows mettle in two-month Gulf of Mexico journey

From two months in 2013, an unmanned ocean vessel developed among the fjords and sounds of Norway sailed among the oil rigs and open water of the Gulf of Mexico. A recently published study details the SailBuoy's 2,400-kilometer journey. Bergen, Norway-based CMR Instrumentation's SailBuoy is a wind-propelled sensor platform designed to handle extended ocean deployments. The vessel, which looks something like a surfboard with a sail the size of an open pizza box, uses satellite communications to relay data from its sensor load and accept navigational commands from on shore. That made it an ideal tool for the Deep-C Consortium , an interdisciplinary group studying the fate of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon spill to better prepare for similar events in the future.

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Pesticides still threaten aquatic life in U.S. rivers and streams

The chemicals used to protect crops and repel insects on land are poisoning the country’s waterways and could spell trouble for aquatic life. The U.S. Geological Survey conducted their second decade’s worth of stream pesticide monitoring for the National Water Quality Assessment program , and turned up some discomforting trends in the process. Chief among these is the fact that, as measured between 2001 and 2011, 90 percent of urban streams in the U.S. contain a high enough concentration of pesticides to impact fish and aquatic invertebrates. This is up from 53 percent in 1992-2001. The study found the U.S. uses more than 500 million pounds of pesticides annually.

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Solar-powered desalination could boost drinking water supply

Areas with undrinkable salty groundwater, like the majority of India, have a new option to create potable water. Salty groundwater is often made drinkable through reverse osmosis desalination plants dependent on electricity. However, a study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers shows electrodialysis is a more viable option for areas off the grid, according to a recent release from the school. Electrodialysis, powered by solar energy, separates salty water from fresh water by using opposing charged electrodes. The process provides better results than reverse osmosis, but uses a fraction of the energy. The scientists plan to implement a working prototype in India in January and hope to see the technology applied in other water scarce situations.

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